In a recent report released by the U.S. Surgeon General, the increased popularity of e-cigarette use among kids, teens and young adults is a major public health concern.
According to the report, until age 25, the brain is undergoing tremendous development. Addiction to products that contain nicotine like e-cigarettes can harm the rapidly developing brain.
The report points out the dangers of vaping, specifying that ultrafine particles inhaled deep into the lungs can be harmful. The report also warns the flavoring agent diacetyl, a chemical linked to serious lung disease such as bronchiolitis obliterans, also known as “popcorn lung.”
Popcorn lung got its nickname for the five microwave popcorn plant workers that developed the disease in 2000 after long-term exposure to diacetyl, which is used to mimic the creamy taste of butter. It’s a disease in which the smallest airways in the lungs form scar tissue that diminishes breathing. The disease is only treatable by lung transplant, and even then, the disease can still return.
The report also warns against the exposure to volatile organic compounds (VOC) and heavy metals, such as nickel, tin, and lead, that vaping introduces to the human body.
“The message from the report is clear,” said Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, MD, in a press briefing. “Nicotine-containing products, including e-cigarettes, are not safe for youth.” He added that vaping among U.S. youth “went from being rare in 2010 to being the most common tobacco product used [by] kids, teens, and young adults in the U.S, surpassing traditional cigarettes, hookah, and chewing tobacco.”